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Mary Kay Place

Born:  September 23, 1947                                                    Tulsa, Ok 

Mary Kay Place is best known for portraying Loretta Haggers on the television series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, a role that won her the 1977 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series. Her numerous film appearances include Private Benjamin (1980), The Big Chill (1983), Captain Ron (1992), and Francis Ford Coppola's 1997 drama The Rainmaker.

Mary Kay Place, is the cousin of Notable People Hall of Famer Leanne Moore, and spent a great deal of time visiting and living in Port Arthur as a child.  In support of the theater department and its students at Lamar State College-Port Arthur she established the Mary Kay Place Scholarship. She holds a special place in the hearts of the people in the area. 


Place has recorded three studio albums for Columbia Records, one in the Haggers persona, which included the Top Ten country music hit "Baby Boy". For her performance in Diane (2018), Place won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress.

Place moved to Hollywood with aspirations of becoming an actress and writer.  She was hired for The Tim Conway Comedy Hour in the 1970s as a production assistant to both Conway and producer Norman Lear.  Conway gave Place her first on-camera break, while Lear saw to it that Place received her first writing credit on his subsequent All in the Family.  On the episode, she and actress Patty Weaver sang "If Communism Comes Knocking on Your Door, Don't Answer It."   She appeared in the third-season episode of M*A*S*H titled "Springtime", for which she also received writing credits.


In the 1977 musical drama New York, New York, directed by Martin Scorsese, Place sings "Blue Moon" with Robert De Niro, whose character also accompanies her on saxophone. It is included in the original motion picture soundtrack.

In the 1979 Burt Reynolds romantic comedy Starting Over, Place plays the first woman Reynolds dates after a divorce.

In 1983, Place had a key role in the Lawrence Kasdan ensemble piece The Big Chill as Meg, a single corporate attorney who wishes to be impregnated with her first child by one of her past college friends.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the actress appeared in a number of television films and a starring role in the 1992 Kurt Russell and Martin Short comedy Captain Ron.   1994 saw her return to television in the recurring role of Camille Cherski on My So-Called Life.   In 1996, Place comically portrayed an evangelistic anti-abortion activist in Alexander Payne's debut feature film Citizen Ruth.  She had a strong dramatic role as Dot Black, the mother of a terminally ill young man, in Francis Ford Coppola's version of John Grisham's The Rainmaker in 1997.

Place was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her work in the 1996 film Manny & Lo with Scarlett Johansson and Aleksa Palladino.  She plays the matronly Elaine, who would love to have a child and works in a maternity shop but never married and is past her child-bearing years.

She directed episodes of the HBO sitcom Dream On, NBC's Friends, and the series Baby Boom. She provided at least two voices for Fox's animated show King of the Hill in an episode in which Peggy Hill competes in the Mrs. Heimlich County Pageant. She voiced both a competitor and the coordinator of the pageant.

She appeared as Mrs. Betty Dustin in the made-for-TV drama “For My Daughter’s honor” (a.k.a “Indecent Seduction”) in 1996, in which she plays a mom in her real-life native Oklahoma whose daughter Amy (played by Nicholle Tom) is being sexually harassed by the school football coach. Place also appeared in Being John Malkovich as the hard-of-hearing receptionist, Floris, and in Girl, Interrupted.   While not in any scenes together, this marked the third time that Mary Kay had done a film with one of her former My So-Called Life co-stars: first with Claire Danes in The Rainmaker, second with Bess Armstrong in Pecker, then with Jared Leto in Interrupted.


In 2000, the actress co-directed Don Henley's video for "Taking You Home". She had a small role in her second Lisa Krueger film, Committed.

She played the United States Surgeon General in a 2001 episode of NBC's The West Wing. The character returned in the 2004 season.

In 2002, Place had a sizable role in the Reese Witherspoon film Sweet Home Alabama as Witherspoon's character's mother, Pearl Smooter. That same year she was in Human Nature starring Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette and A Woman's a Helluva Thing with Penelope Ann Miller as well as with Albert Brooks in the dark comedy My First Mister. The story focuses on a developing relationship between an isolated, rebellious 18-year-old (Leelee Sobieski) and an engaging older man (Brooks). Place played Brooks' best friend. The film marked the directorial debut of actress Christine Lahti. 


Place played a Mormon mother in the film Latter Days (2003). From 2006 to 2011, she had a recurring role in HBO's Big Love, playing Adaleen Grant, the mother of the Chloë Sevigny character, Nicki.  She also had a recurring role on the HBO comedy Bored to Death.  Lily Tomlin and Place did the pilot and 5 episodes of 12 Miles of Bad Road from Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who wrote television scripts with Place in the 1970s. HBO chose not to air the series, and producers were seeking other networks to air it.

In 2009, she served as the voice of Julie Powell's mother in the film Julie & Julia. In 2013, she appeared as Bryan's mother on The New Normal.

In 2015, Place guest starred on The Mentalist and Looking.   She also starred in the comedy-drama film I'll See You in My Dreams, directed by Brett Haley, opposite Blythe Danner, and The Breakup Girl directed by Stacy Sherman.   She provided the voice of Anne Hathaway's mother in The Intern, directed by Nancy Meyers.  Place also had a recurring role on Grace and Frankie opposite Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

In 2017, Place guest starred in an episode of the comedy series Black-ish.  She also had a cameo voice appearance in Downsizing directed by Alexander Payne.  Place also had a recurring role on the comedy series Imposters.

In 2018, Place starred in State Like Sleep directed by Meredith Danluck and appeared in an episode of the anthology drama The Romanoffs.  That same year, she starred in the drama film Diane directed by Kent Jones, and executive produced by Martin Scorsese The film marked Place's first lead role in a film and was written specifically for her by Jones.  The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 2018.  Place's performance received rave reviews from critics.  The film was released on March 29, 2019, by IFC Films.  Place won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for her performance.   Place received nominations for Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress and Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.  Place also had a recurring role on Shameless.

In 2020, Place guest starred on the comedy-drama series AJ and the Queen, and on Fox's 9-1-1: Lone Star as Theresa Blake, the mother to Liv Tyler's character.  In 2021, Place played Millie in the musical drama Music, co-written and directed by Sia.  She also starred in the musical The Prom based on the Broadway musical of the same title directed by Ryan Murphy, for Netflix.   

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